As the interest of readers in crime fiction in translation continues to grow, it’s common knowledge that one writer's name guarantees highly individual writing: the veteran Italian master Andrea Camilleri. And August Heat
demonstrates once again why the author is held in such high esteem -- and why Inspector Montalbano is one of the treasures of the current crime scene. This latest offering (with Montalbano dealing with the discovery of a young woman’s body) is par for the course – not vintage Montalbano, but more than serviceable -- aided by a translation courtesy of the adroit Stephen Sartarelli.
As usual with Montalbano (whose gourmet instincts are as keen as his investigative skills), his methods for learning the truth from suspects vary according to the individuals he is dealing with; here, an unpleasant paedophile comes in for some particularly no-nonsense treatment -- and the legality of some of Montalbano’s actions is distinctly questionable.
The setting, as usual, is the picturesque, non-metropolitan region of Vigata in Sicily. And it's hot --stiflingly hot. In August Heat, we are never allowed to forget the all-enveloping sultriness (the inspector -- possessor of miniature fan, the only one in the police station -- sometimes cloisters himself in his office and strips naked to deal with the heat). At the beginning of the novel, Montalbano’s lover, Livia, has arranged for some friends to stay near them. But their guests' irritating child disappears, and Montalbano undertakes a search. The house they are using yields no clues, despite being searched with a fine toothcomb. The mystery is total -- is it an abduction? Has the child wandered away? Until, that is, Montalbano finds a tunnel in the ground outside -- one that that takes him to a concealed layer of the house. He finds the child, unharmed, but there is another discovery waiting for him in the subterranean room: a trunk. Inside, wrapped in plastic, is the unclothed body of a girl -- her throat has been slashed. The clues to her killer may lie with those responsible for the concealed floor.
Camilleri fans will be more than happy with this, though there is no catch-up characterisation for Montalbano's police colleagues; the author clearly makes the assumption that we’ll be familiar with them. This reservation apart (plus a few others involving a comic secondary figure), followers of this urbane, relentless Italian copper need not hesitate. --Barry Forshaw
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Camilleri is in top form in his Inspector Montalbano mystery, set in a seaside villa that seems to be under a biblical curse . . . As always, Camilleri lovingly portrays Montalbano's dry wit, gourmet appetite and distaste for corrupt Italian politics.' --Sunday Times
'Camilleri has produced another winner: pacy, funny and full of angry compassion. Newcomers should start wtih an earlier novel, but this series is every bit as good as the Swedish classics the author rightly admires.' --Guardian
'Camilleri, on top form, lovingly portrays his series hero Inspector Montalbano's dry wit, gourmet appetite and distate for corrupt Italian politics, in this latest mystery, set in a seaside villa that seems to be under a biblical curse.' --Sunday Times
'Sicilian octogenarian Camilleri effortlessly weaves crime and sardonic humour in the latest installment of his Montalbano mysteries.'